Management Success Tip #148: Be Inspired By Big Cities’ Success: Bring The Right Mix Of People To The Table

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Ben Hecht posted a fascinating blog on how big cities think about large-scale change. He described, in considerable detail, the process used by big cities that were successful in implementing complex, large scale change.

Hecht pointed out, in one sentence that caught my attention like no other, that “Much of what weʼve learned is relevant to leaders of any type of organization or partnership that want to catalyze change in the face of complex challenges.”

Indeed. Take but one aspect of the process, what Hecht calls “Get the right players to the table.” He states that “Change happens only when the right mix of partners, with the right experience, knowledge, and power are at the table…Too often, actors that were fundamental to achieving the desired results were not yet involved in existing efforts — thatʼs why the efforts werenʼt working. We asked cities to start from the results that they wanted to achieve, and then to determine who needed to be at the table in order to achieve them. Often, this meant bringing people together who were not used to working together.”

What a powerful lesson that can be applied to any size business! Look at your team, or the people you’ve assembled to work on a project, and ask yourself, “Are these the people who need to be involved given our goals?” Open yourself to bringing people together who do not usually work together: techies with creative types, designers with employees in manufacturing, Boomers with Millenials.

Your employees will be invigorated by the diversity of their team, and you will have greater success.

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Management Success Tip #144: Use Targeted Questions to Get Employees Past the Fear-of-Change Boogeyman.

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Change upsets us. We grow used to a certain way of doing things, and even when it’s not terribly efficient, we’re usually more comfortable with that tried-and-true way, than we are with something new, even if it promises to be way more effective.

So it’s no big surprise that some of your employees buck that change you so desperately need them to accept.

Kevin Eikenberry offers a number of ways to approach their resistance, the first of which are:

“1. Understand the source of the reluctance. People have a reason – rational or emotional (or likely a combination of the two) – why they don’t want to make a particular change. The first mistake leaders make is assuming you know why. Even if your people have shared their reasons in the past, it is important to ask them about their concerns and reservations this time. Do this in as authentic and non-threatening way as you can. Your goal it to truly understand what they are thinking and feeling about the change. (In order to do that you must . . .)

2.  Shut up and listen. Your goal isn’t to convince them or influence them at this point. Your goal is only to listen to their responses. Respond only with follow-up questions designed to truly understand where they are in regards to the change.”

How common-sensical is that! Ask, with a genuine intent to find out what’s really going on, and then listen, again, with a genuine intent to discover the source of the resistance.

Once you address your employees’ concerns, regardless of how meaningful or absurd you believe they are, your employees will be far more willing to go along with your so ardently desired change.